I acquired an early love and appreciation for sushi from my father when I was growing up. At the heart of sushi making, the most important aspect of it is the rice. Luckily, if you know how to make steamed rice, sushi rice is very simple and easy to make. The trick is to use a little less water, so it’s less moist, and to mix the sweetened vinegar mixture into the rice as soon as the rice is cooked and is still hot. (More on this below.) The recipe I use is the same one that my father used whenever he would make sushi for us. Do note that the yield is quite a lot, so if you’re preparing sushi for fewer people, you can use the second ingredients list.
Ingredients: (makes 6 cups of rice, good for 4-6 people)
- 3 cups Japanese sushi rice
- 3-1/4 cups of water (note, you may need to adjust the water levels depending on your rice cooker)
- 1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Optional: 3 tablespoons of sake
Smaller serving to make 2 cups of cooked sushi rice (good for 1-2 people):
- 1 cup of Japanese sushi rice
- 1-1/4 cups of water (note, you may need to adjust the water levels depending on your rice cooker)
- 2-1/2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1/3 teaspoon of salt
- Optional: 2 tablespoons of sake
1. Wash the rice through a strainer under running water, gently scrubbing it to get the starch out. Do this until the water runs clear. You can also wash your rice in a large bowl. Pour the water out after each rinse and repeat two to three more times until the water runs clear. Drain the rice.
2. Place the rice and water (and if you’d like, the sake) in your rice cooker. If you’re using a pot, place your rice and water (and sake) into the pot on high heat and stir the rice occasionally until the water comes to a boil. When the water is boiling, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low and leave it for 15 minutes. Check on it at the 10 minute mark to see if the rice is ready. The kernels should be fully developed and soft.
3. Prepare your sweetened vinegar mixture while you wait for your rice to cook. Place the vinegar, sugar, and salt into a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Note that you can adjust the proportions of vinegar, sugar, and salt to your own taste, depending on the kind of sushi you may be making, you may want the rice a little more or less salty or sweet.
4. When the rice is ready, transfer the rice into a large plastic or wooden bowl. A wider bowl is best to allow the rice to cool, and is easier to mix your mixture in. Avoid a metal bowl or utensil as it can impact the flavour of the rice, a metal spoon can also break up the rice, making it overly mushy and sticky. Slowly sprinkle your sweetened vinegar mixture over the rice and gently fold it into the rice with a plastic or wooden rice paddle (or spatula) and mix it in thoroughly.
5. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature. You can use a fan to help it cool faster, or lay it out on a cookie sheet. It will get a nice glossy sheen to it as the excess moisture leaves the rice. Do not put it in the fridge. That will change the texture of the rice, making it dry and hard.
And you’re done!
If you’re able to prepare your sushi or serve your rice right away, that would be best as the rice is at its best when it’s used and served immediately (or within a couple hours).